Brander reflects on past; looks toward Duke

With his high school football career now a thing of the past, Columbia (S.C.) Heathwood Hall standout defensive lineman Gabe Brandner is now looking forward to his career in Durham. After he finished his career for Heathwood, he spoke to TDD to look back on all he's accomplished, and what he hopes to accomplish at the next level.

"We finished the season with a 3-8 overall record," said Gabe Brandner. "We lost in the first round of the playoffs. I'd have to say the best memory of the season was our victory over Laurence Manning."

Despite his team's struggles on the season, Brandner managed with post an impressive line of stats, finishing the season with 68 total tackles and 11 tackles for loss. It was good enough to earn an invitation to play in the Oasis All-Star Shrine Classic game - the top all-star game for private school players in North and South Carolina. Once he arrive in Moorseville for the all-star game, he took home MVP honors on the defensive side of things.

For Brandner, taking home an all-star game MVP trophy is a nice cap to a high school career that may not have happened.

"I always thought I was a baseball player until I did a strength and speed competition during my sophomore year. After that I was invited to a summer football camp where I performed well. I uses that was the start of my focus on football for my junior season."

"At the beginning, I had my focus set on the I-AA schools, and I received my first scholarship offer in May of my junior season. Once that first offer came I started to believe in myself, and I carried that confidence into the football camps I attended that summer. I credit my coach, Coach Ashley Farr as the most influential person in my development. He was my high school baseball coach, and he really influenced me to start concentrating on weight lifting and fitness. Once that happened, the results on the field started to follow."

From there, Brandner would eventually earn offers from Duke, Air Force, Maryland, and Clemson, before ultimately choosing the Blue Devils - to whom he remains solid.

"I remain committed to Duke and will be taking my official visit on December 7th. I visited Durham twice this year unofficially, once for the FIU game, and then for the North Carolina game. I'm going to enroll this summer, and I'm looking forward to building camaraderie with my teammates during that time."

With his high school football career now in the rear view mirror, Brandner has gone back to focusing on fitness and lifting as he prepares for the next level. He reports current weight room numbers as follows:

"I'm 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds at this point. My best forty yard dash time has been 4.90 seconds. I have maxes of 405 on the squat, 305 on the bench press, and 285 on the power clean."

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